Merchants don’t necessarily need to accept bitcoin for consumers to spend it right now; Visa will do just fine for bitcoin holders.
Bitcoin payments company BitPay has partnered with the payments giant to launch a co-branded debit card allowing U.S. consumers to spend the digital currency at Visa merchants, BitPay announced in a blog post Tuesday.
In past years many companies have had plans to offer a bitcoin debit card, but for one reason or another those plans rarely panned out. The idea largely quieted in the U.S. as interest in bitcoin has shifted from the digital currency to applications of its underlying blockchain technology.
Users of the BitPay card load funds onto the card fee-free from a bitcoin mobile wallet, and BitPay then converts the digital currency into dollars to spend in stores or online. Cardholders can also opt to receive direct deposits from employers onto the BitPay card.
There is no wait time for exchange fund transfers to clear; bitcoin deposits are credited to users’ accounts as dollars within seconds. Users can take up to $3,000 a day in cash withdrawals from a Visa-supported ATM, and load up to $10,000 a day in spendable funds.
The BitPay Card is issued by Metropolitan Commercial Bank in New York City.
In 2012, the now defunct BitInstant promised a similar product with which it would partner with MasterCard. Two years later, Xapo had to pull its short-lived bitcoin debit cards in the U.S. Coinjar, Coinkite, Shift Payments and others have been testing their own.